Friday, May 24, 2024

Table for One

We've been talking this week about an individualized faith and a personal Lord and Savior and all of the messages we get that our faith is some kind of private thing that we do that doesn't really affect or connect to anyone else. 

And I think even for those of us in the church, those of us attending worship in fellowship weekly, there's a degree of this that is still true. 

And we see it nowhere more clearly than at the Table. 

I have been blessed to celebrate the Lord's Supper with a number of churches over the years, and overwhelmingly, what happens is this: someone provides a quick message in preparation for the Table, the elements (the bread and the cup) are offered (either being passed or being presented for individuals to come), everyone takes the portion that is given to them, then everyone enters into some kind of moment of private devotion. 

I have seen parents take the bread and the cup, hand a portion to their children, take one for themselves, bow their heads, and have a private moment of prayer. In other words, they aren't even sharing this Table with their children. The same is true for husbands and wives; they aren't sharing this moment with each other. 

I have sat in rooms where 500+ different Communions are happening all at the very same moment, and it seems no one thinks to even raise their head and look at anyone sitting at the Table with them. Let alone speak. 

Somehow, in 2,000 years as we've come to this extremely individualized culture that we live in, we have taken even this shared Table of Jesus, this place that He shared with at least twelve other men (and quite possibly, even more men - and women - than that), and we have made it one more thing we do on our own...and try to call it holy. 

Did you know there was never a person who celebrated the Passover alone? Never. Not once. 

The rule for the Passover was that whatever animals were slaughtered must be wholly consumed; there was to be nothing left of them. So God's command was that if anyone was unable to consume the entire animal by themselves, by having enough persons in their household to help them, then they were to join up with someone else who would not be able to consume the entire animal. Since no one can eat a whole lamb by themselves in one sitting (even, I would dare say, in our land of obesity and over-eating), no one ever celebrated the Passover alone. 

Until we started doing it. 

Until, weirdly, we started doing it while sitting right next to ten, twenty, fifty, hundreds of other folks who are also celebrating the Passover alone...right next to us. 

It's bizarre. 

And it's heartbreaking. 

One of the very best things about being a person of faith is being part of the people of God, and here we are, even in this most holy moment, this most sacred moment, this most wonderful moment that celebrates the togetherness of the we are trying to do it on our own. Because our world keeps telling us our faith is some kind of private matter. 

Friends, faith has never been a private matter. It's always been a communal event. 

Come to this Table and remember to look up from time to time. You're not here alone. You never were. You were never meant to be. 

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